Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe President Donald Trump's encouragement of a foreign leader to investigate Trump's political rival and his family is a serious problem, but only 17% said they were surprised by the president's actions, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll.
In a polarized electorate, attitudes about the severity of Trump's actions broke strongly along partisan lines, with Democrats three times as likely to find the conversation a very or somewhat serious problem -- 91% of Democrats compared with 32% of Republicans.
Democrats also were even more likely to have the most intense feelings, with nearly 3 in 4, about 72%, saying they thought the president's comments were a very serious problem, compared to 41% of Independents.
Republicans were less intense in their skepticism about the seriousness of the problem than Democrats were in their conviction it was a problem -- 37% of Republicans said it wasn't serious at all, but 13% of Republicans responded that it was a very serious problem compared to only 2% of Democrats who said the president's actions related to Ukraine were not a problem at all.
Still, Trump's actions during the phone conversation were not surprising to a large majority of Americans. About 83% responded that they were not so surprised or not surprised at all that Trump had such a conversation, with little variation by partisanship. Only 3% of Americans said they were very surprised.
Amid the rapidly unfolding political drama, only about 1 in 4, or 24%, said they were following news of Trump's call very closely. About 4 in 10 said they were following it somewhat closely.
Those who said that they were keeping a close eye on the news were more likely to be Democrats and more likely to think the conversation was a serious problem.
This ABC News/Ipsos poll comes days after a fast-moving series of events, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's announcement on Tuesday that House Democrats were moving forward with a formal impeachment inquiry -- after an overwhelming parade of members of her own caucus backed the move.
The survey did not include a question about respondents' support or opposition to an impeachment inquiry.
But early polling conducted early last week, before the release of the whistleblower complaint on Thursday, showed a shift in support for an impeachment inquiry since Pelosi's announcement.
In an NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll conducted Wednesday, 49% of Americans approved of House Democrats launching an impeachment inquiry, while 46% disapproved. In the same survey, a substantial majority of voters, about 70%, said they were paying attention to the news.
Earlier this year, following former special counsel Robert Mueller's public statement at the conclusion of the Russia investigation, only 22% of Americans supported beginning impeachment proceedings in a June NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.
This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs‘ KnowledgePanel® Sept. 27-28, 2019, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 504 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 4.8 points, including the design effect. See the poll's top-line results and details on the methodology here.